By D. J. Mathews
“Where are the songs of spring?
Aye, where are they?
Think not of them, those hast thy music too…” From “To Autumn,” by John Keats
Recently, at Dublin’s Randolph Park, we decided to try a bit of frisbee (disc) golf. It was cloudy and a bit cold, but with the wind dying down, the branches on the mostly bare trees shielded us from the coolness of the season.
I never used to think this, but fall is a celebration of sorts. This autumn for some reason (climate change?) greatly extended itself in the color department with the different kinds of trees and the different shaped leaves taking their time to be removed from view, taking precious moments to finally float down into a pile.
Late fall is as special as early fall — whoo-wee, all the piles and bunches of crinkly leaves to jump in — such fun, doing a slush-rush-crunch slog, ankle deep in light brown or yellowish-a-bit-reddish leaf litter. Keats, Rachel Carson, and Henry David Thoreau all wrote fondly of the great outdoors, probably loving this avalanche of “tree shed” the spouse and I experienced most intimately at the park.
So we were tossing frisbees and noticed there is now a second course with white frisbee goals that look a bit like a sideways, metal basketball net, alongside the old yellow ones. The course for either is not easy to follow in the quiet little woods, and it stymied a father and son duo trying to play through. They were near our goal and stayed close by; the dad couldn’t find his red frisbee, something actually easy to lose in all these piles of dry leaves. He said the frisbee was hopelessly lost.
So we spent a little time being Good Samaritans and looking around, swishing our feet through the leaf litter, hoping for a flash of red somewhere. After several minutes, my husband Frank suggested, since the dad had an extra frisbee on him, to go back to his old spot and toss it from there. He tried it and wouldn’t you know it, the red one was only six inches from the most recent throw. Amazing.
Amazing things happen when you are out in nature. You find another way to relax, you breathe in fresh air, you get in touch with your outer, wild self, which is really worth it if you think about it. Sometimes you even find a moment when you get a chance to interact with others in a natural setting.
We surely don’t spend enough time outdoors nowadays, too much of it glued to an electronic device inside, communicating in a virtual, mechanical fashion. But late fall and even into winter can be times to get away from all that worry we see online, away from certain responsibilities. So try your local park sometime and commune with nature. Even a short walk through your local neighborhood can be nice.
Ms. D. J. Mathews is a Master naturalist member and author of the young-adult oriented book, “Great American Women in Science and Environment,” available at www.greatamericanidea.com/books/ .)